I don’t usually reflect and take stock this time of year, usually I’m too busy, but I had a quiet couple of days recently and spent some time wondering, Where did all the time go? It seems to have flown by this year faster than ever before. This was the year I was going to get something done (AKA finish the damn book). What happened? What did I DO in the past year?
Looking back, I realize I spent most of the year pushing myself out of my comfort zone. And learning.
I took a screenwriting class that completely changed how I look at writing a novel. Boy, did I need to change how I look at writing a novel. Nearly a year later, I’m still trying to wrestle my story into a structure that makes sense. With as much as I’ve learned, I’m constantly amazed by how much I don’t know about how to write.
I wrote 34, now 35, blog posts over here. Plus the six posts I wrote on another blog. Fewer than in prior years, but I also spent a good bit of time creating not one, but two new multi-page blogs in WordPress. Great fun and mentally invigorating, but that was a huge learning curve for me.
I started using Twitter, another learning curve and very much outside the comfort zone. I’ve encountered some fascinating people, made a few new friends and gained valuable insight into certain aspects of publishing and marketing. I feel like I have spinach in my teeth half the time over there, but I’m trying not to dwell on it.
Let’s see, what else consumed my energy, other than the day job (as if that’s not enough)? There were the months I spent worrying I might have throat cancer (I didn’t). There was continued angst about selling and moving out of my house — until I realized I could refinance the damn thing (I did), followed by endless paperwork and monitoring mortgage rates and worrying that something would go wrong before closing (nothing did). I tell myself I learned to stop worrying (I didn’t).
There was the trip to Minneapolis and the wrenched knee, which still hasn’t quite healed. And a nasty bout with pneumonia, preceded by what I’m pretty sure was the flu. No learning curve there, but definitely exhausting.
If I’m to be honest, there was also a significant stretch of time when I struggled with whether I have what it takes to become a published author and whether that’s even what I want for myself. For now, the answer is yes, but I suspect that’s going to be an ongoing debate.
And while all these things were either unavoidable or somehow important to my personal or professional growth, none of them had anything to do with putting words on the page. Not directly. With all the things I did this year, the one thing I didn’t do enough of was write.
What a waste of time, you might think. I disagree. I’ve always believed that things happen when and how they’re supposed to happen. Sure, you need to work hard and you can focus your efforts and try to steer so you’re going in the right direction instead of running straight into hazards. Absolutely, you need to do that. But things happen. You can’t force them any more than you can avoid them. You may not believe that, but I do.
So this past year might not look particularly productive on the face of it. But every event, every fleeting yet educational moment was a necessary prelude to what comes next. I’m exactly where I need to be, doing exactly what I need to do. And I have a very strong sense that the coming year is going to be one of great change and accomplishment.
What about you? Are you satisfied with your accomplishments of the past year? What were they? What are your hopes and dreams for the next twelve months? Do you, too, feel a sense of impending events, of things beyond your control? Or are you more concerned about odd behaviour (perhaps yours?) during the eclipse of the blue moon this New Year’s Eve?
Stay safe this weekend and have a very Happy New Year!
7 responses to “Time flies”
I think evaluating if your writing is worthy is fine if your only goal is to get published. I started writing for two reasons: 1) I knew if I didn’t get the story out of my head it would eventually explode, and 2) I ran out of people I know that I could pin into a corner and tell them stories, plus that was exhausting for both of us, and if you write it down you can go pee whenever you feel the need and you wont have to worry about your computer running off while you’re gone for just one minute…
I feel that I have learned more this year than I have in a long time, and at one point it all clicked and I realized, “Oh, that’s what they mean! (I’m a little thick sometimes.)
Otherwise, my goal is to breath life into characters and keep them fresh and interesting. I give them a beginning, a middle, and an end. Then I slap a weird title over the whole thing and call it good. If it goes somewhere from there, fabulous, if nit, I’ll keep telling the stories anyway. They keep my friends amused, at their own leisure.
It’s been great getting to “know” you this year, BCB. I wish you a New Year full of awsomesauce and nothin’ but good times ahead!
Thanks, SD! I’ve really enjoyed getting to “know” you too. I have very good feelings about things to come in the new year — for many of us, including you.
I am writing with the intention of getting published, but I wasn’t trying to evaluate my writing so much as trying to figure out what the hell happened to the year. I really did make a HUGE amount of progress on the writing front, it just wasn’t the kind of progress I thought it would be (ie, a finished ms). I’m a little thick too and had several moments of “duh” this year when I finally understood what various people had been telling me forever and ever and ever.
Hey, my laptop runs off all the time. Oddly, it only happens when the kids are around. Hmmm.
What the hell happened to this year…well, I believe Einstein started out his theory of relativity with some math mish mosh and ended it by saying “The older you get the faster it goes,” using the evidence that as a child the time between New Years and the following Christmas is so painfully, head bangingly s l o w that occasionally it feels like time.has.stopped. While as an adult you go “WTF happened? Wasn’t it just Presidents Day? Now it’s Halloween? Argh!!!”
And yes, the laptop does in fact run off occasionally now that you mention it…
I’ve been trying to think of a better way to phrase it than this idea, but nothing comes to mind. So here goes. If your book were a weight loss goal, I would say that you haven’t lost fat, but you’ve gained muscle. (Except that of course I don’t mean that physically, but writingly.) You’ve been strengthening your writing skills tremendously, even if that improvement doesn’t show in the desired goal of a completed book.
Happy New Year!
Merry, I think that’s a very good comparison. In many ways, I’m glad I didn’t complete the book last year. My writing is much stronger now and I feel like I’m finally able to do it justice. Perhaps.
It is a good comparison. And you must remember that writing is not just a skill set, but an art form. You are moving on from stick figures. 😉 And judging from what have heard, nobody ever finishes learning how to write so you are in very good company.
But it sounds to me like your year has been very full, even if it did go by too quickly. So did mine. Didn’t accomplish most of what wanted to, but I kept moving forward so I’m counting that as an accomplishment.
McB, I will never move on from stick figures. They are the pinnacle of my drawing ability. 8)
I kept moving forward too and you’re right, given everything else, that does feel like an accomplishment. Keep learning and keep trying — good goals.